Strauss Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Strauss Meaning
is a Gernanic surname made
famous by the 19th century composers Johann Strauss with his Viennese
waltzes and Richard Strauss with his operas such as Der
The surname seemed to have started out as a
nickname, either as an awkward or belligerent person (from struz
meaning “to quarrel”) or as a person who might wear a hat
with ostrich feathers (from struze meaning
Strauss can be a
German or a
Jewish surname
. A Strauss came to
South Africa in 1723, to America in 1732, and was recorded in England
1790. Sometimes the surname has been
spelt Straus.

Strauss Resources on

Strauss Ancestry

surname is found mainly
in Austria and in southern and eastern Germany.
The numbers today are about 20,000 in Germany as a whole and
another 5,000
in Austria.

America. The earliest
Strauss arrivals in America were probably two brothers from
Albrecht and John Philip Strauss, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1732
settled in Berks county. They left their name to Strausstown (where a
John Strauss had a large farm and distillery).
Some of these Strauss descendants changed their spelling to

A later example of a spelling change was
Strauss becoming Strouse in Indiana in the 1860’s.
Another Strauss in Indiana changed his name
to Stross.

Strauss came to Ohio from Bavaria in 1858.
He was a portrait and miniaturist painter by trade.
Six of his paintings are displayed in the
Cincinnati Art Museum. His son Joseph was
the chief engineer in the building of the
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Strauss meanwhile
arrived in Milwaukee in the 1880’s. His
sons started the Strauss Brothers meatpacking business in 1937. This business is now run by the third
generation of Strausses.

Strausses. The
majority of the Strausses who came in the 19th century were Jewish,

The most famous of
them was Levi Strauss, the inventor of blue jeans.
Growing up in Bavaria, he joined his older
brothers in New York in 1848. They
operated a small dry goods business there.
When he heard about the California gold rush he headed West and
his own dry goods business in San Francisco.
It was in 1873 that the Levi Strauss Company patented a new
denim work
overall and blue jeans were born. Levi
himself died unmarried in 1902 and his legacy was passed onto his four

Lazarus Straus meanwhile had come to America
in 1854 from the Rhineland Palatinate, settling first in Georgia and
after the Civil War, in New York. His
three sons all made their mark there – Nathan and Isidor as co-owners
of New
York’s biggest department stores (Macy’s and Abraham & Straus) and
who in 1906 became the first Jewish US Cabinet minister.

Isidor Straus
died with his wife
the Titanic sank in 1912. His
son Jesse served as US ambassador to
France in the 1930’s. Nathan Straus
gave away most of his fortune to Jewish projects in Palestine. Meanwhile Roger Straus, the grandson of
Oscar, was the co-founder and chairman of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a
New York
book publishing company.

Other notable 19th century
immigrants were:

  • Raphael
    Strauss from
    Baden-Wurttemberg who came to upstate New York in the 1850’s and ran a
    goods business there. His son Joseph was
    a naval officer in World War One and later commanded the Asiatic fleet,
    first Jewish Admiral of the US Navy.
  • and
    Leopold Strauss from Alsace who fought on the Confederate side in the
    Civil War
    and whose son Leopold became a civic leader in Montgomery, Alabama.

Strauss came to the US from Germany
in 1915, hoping to become a concert pianist.
Instead he opened a dry goods store in rural Texas.
But he had two remarkable sons who were each to
make their mark in very different areas:

  • Robert
    Strauss, the legendary Washington insider who was to serve
    Presidents from Carter through Reagan to Bush. Bush
    appointed him ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991.
  • while
    Ted Strauss became a
    entrepreneur, well-known in his own right and also via his wife Annette
    served as mayor of Dallas.

Arnold Strauss arrived in Virginia in 1935, escaping
. Sadly both his parents
trapped in the Netherlands when the Germans invaded that country in

England. The Strauss name in England is not that
common, although one Strauss line has been traced back to Charles
Strauss in
London sometime around 1790.

and Arthur Strauss arrived in London as Jewish merchants from Mainz in
1860’s. Both prospered, Alphonse as a
general merchant in London and Arthur as a wealthy tin merchant in
Cornwall (known
as the “tin king”) and Liberal MP there.
Both had illustrious sons:

  • Alphonse
    with Henry Strauss, a Conservative MP who became Baron Conesford
  • and
    Arthur with George Strauss, a long-time
    Labor MP who became Baron Strauss.

recent English cricket captain Andrew Strauss has South African
having been born in Johannesburg.

South Africa
. Georg
Friedrich Strauss
emigrated from Strasbourg to the Cape Colony
as a
midshipman on the Adelaarin
1723. His descendants in South Africa,
via his sons David and Johannes, are numerous.

One line from Johannes led to J.G.N. (or Koos)
Strauss from the Northern Cape who was leader of the opposition United
from 1950 to 1956 at the time that the pro-apartheid National Party was
on the


Strauss Miscellany

Strauss in Germanic Lands.  The Strauss name in Germany covers a large and genetically varied group of people of German and German Jewish origin.

It is thought that the name has been used by
families in the Germanic area for at least a thousand years. The
overlord of
Gröna in Saxony, for example, went by the name of Struz.
He used the image of an ostrich as his
symbol.   Examples of the ostrich can
still be seen in the church bell of that town.Struz or Struzeis the
NorthGerman form of Strauss, as well as being the German for ostrich.  A branch of the Grona family later built a
keep at Strausberg near Sonderhausen in Thuringia.

Some of the earliest Jewish bearers of the
name hailed from the Judengasse in medieval Frankfurt.
There families were known by the names of the
house they inhabited. All the houses had names and these included Haus
complete with an image of an ostrich on the façade.
Samuel Straus who lived in the mid-19th
century was descended from this group.

for tax purposes, Napoleon made surnames obligatory in 1808, some more
families decided to take the name Strauss or Straus.
In many cases it was purely an ornamental

Georg Friedrich Strauss to South Africa in 1723.  Georg
Friedrich Strauss grew up in a middle class
family in Strasbourg in German-speaking Alsace.
His grandfather Johann was a prominent merchant in the town and
father Christoph had married well.

Georg decided on a life at sea and, at the age of 26, enlisted as a
on the Dutch vessel Adelaar in
1723.  The ship departed in June that
year for Batavia in the Dutch East Indies with 135 sailors and 90

the vessel reached the
Cape of Good Hope in October, Georg had a change of heart and jumped
ship.  Perhaps he was fortunate.  The Adelaar
sank off the Hebrides in Scotland five years later.

found work as a plumber in
Drakenstein.  In 1729 he married Johanna
Mouton, the daughter of a French Huguenot.
Shortly after his marriage, he moved with his wife to Cape Town
they had five children.  From two of
their sons, David and Johannes, came a large number of descendants.

Isadore and Ida Straus on the Titanic.  Travelling back
from a winter in Europe, Isidor Straus and his wife Ida were passengers
on the Titanic when, on the night of April 14,
1912, she hit an iceberg.

Once it was
clear that the Titanic was sinking,
Ida refused to leave Isidor and would not get into a lifeboat without
him.  Although Isidor was offered a seat in
lifeboat to accompany Ida, he refused seating while there were still
women and
children aboard and refused to be made an exception.

According to friend and Titanic
survivor Colonel Gracie, Gracie had offered to ask a deck officer if
Isidor and
Ida could both enter a lifeboat together. Isidor was reported to have
Gracie in a firm tone: “I will not go before the other men.” Ida
insisted her newly hired English maid, Ellen Bird, get into the
lifeboat. She
gave Ellen her fur coat stating she would not be needing it. Ida was
to have said, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have
so will we die together.”

and Ida were last seen on deck arm in arm. Eyewitnesses described the
scene as
“a most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.” Both died on
April 15 when the ship sank at 2:20 am. Isidor Straus’s body was
recovered.  But Ida’s body was never found.

The Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is located
at Straus Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one block from
where they
resided at 105th Street and West End Avenue. An inscription reads:
and pleasant they were in their lives, and in death they were not

Ted Strauss’s Entrepreneurial Wheeze.  Always an
entrepreneur at heart, Ted Strauss started up a giftwrap and packaging
in 1951.  At that time only plain paper
was available at department stores.  He
introduced themed gift wrapping paper which later became the rage of
the retail

Strauss went about
creating that niche has been one of Dallas’ legendary business tales.  Looking to make the right connections,
Strauss went after Stanley Marcus to get Neiman Marcus’ official seal
approval.  Strauss figured that was the
closest thing to a royal endorsement in Dallas.
Strauss didn’t have a desk or an office.
So he called Marcus from a pay phone to make the appointment.

gotta love the audacity,” Strauss
recalled in 2005. “Two kids in our 20’s calling on the most famous name
fashion about helping us start a giftwrap business. His immediate
before quickly showing us the door was ‘Have you lost your minds?’

as we were leaving his office, he told
us, ‘If you ever actually get a good idea, call me.’ Two weeks later, I
him back and told him, ‘I have a great idea.’ He asked, ‘What is
it?’ And I
said, ‘The same one.’”
After much
discussion, Marcus agreed to let Strauss add “Designs by Neiman Marcus”
to the
company’s name.  It was a
global business when Strauss sold it in 1966.

The Struasses Escaping Nazism.  Arnold Strauss had trained as a doctor and in the 1930’s was working
as a pathologist at a hospital in
Berlin.  In 1933 Hitler came into power
and began to implement his policies against Jews. Because the Strausses
were of
Jewish ancestry they were subject to these discriminative policies and
found it
hard to continue to work.

1933 Arnold
and his parents Arthur and Lucy immigrated to the Netherlands.  Two years later Arnold secured a position at
St. Vincent’s Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia and immigrated to the
States.  His father Arthur, who was a
very patriotic man and loved Germany greatly, was reluctant to leave
Europe.  It wasn’t until 1938 that he
finally gave up hope of returning to Germany and agreed to immigrate to
United States.

when Arnold began trying to obtain
immigrant visas for them to join him in the United States it was
probably too
late – due to the large numbers of people also trying to leave Europe
at that
time.  When the German army invaded the
Netherlands in May 1940 the Strausses became trapped there.  Arthur and Lucy endured four months of the
Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
Then, after apparently losing hope of being able to join Arnold
in the
United States, they took their own lives in September 1940.

married an American, Marjory Ware
Spindle, in Virginia in 1941 and lived onto 1965.


Strauss Names

  • Levi Strauss was the US West Coast immigrant at the time of the California Gold Rush who founded
    the Levi Strauss Company which became world-famous for the manufacture of blue jeans. 
  • Isidor Straus was the New York businessman who co-owned Macy’s department store and died on the Titanic when she sank in 1912.   
  • Joseph Strauss was the
    chief engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that was completed in 1937. 
  • Koos Strauss was the leader of the opposition United Party in South Africa from 1950 to 1956. 
  • Robert Strauss was the legendary
    Washington insider, serving Presidents from Carter through Reagan to Bush

Select Strauss Numbers Today

  • 600 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Strauss and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.

Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.




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